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Posts Tagged ‘An Educated Idiot’

Every decision I’ve ever made, including the decision to be a prostitute, is linked to a desire to be free.  –  Gabriela Leite

R.I.P. Gabriela Leite

Gabriela LeiteSex worker rights activist Gabriela Leite died of cancer on October 10th at the age of 62.  She organized the first Brazilian whores’ convention in 1987, then in 1992 founded a rights NGO named Davida; in 2010 she ran for the Brazilian congress (as depicted in the documentary A Kiss for Gabriela).  Though she lost the election she won tremendous respect, and a bill to eliminate the contradictory provisions in Brazilian prostitution law was recently named in her honor.  She was one of the greats, and will be sorely missed in the sex worker rights community.

Social Autoimmune Disorder

Police in Florida have begun…recording license plate information from cars that drive through areas frequented by sex workers and sending a letter to that individual’s home…[including] a close-up image of the license plate and…reminders about the potential for sexually transmitted diseases…Authorities speaking to the media seemed to assume that someone’s mere presence near illegal activity presumes their guilt…

An Educated Idiot

Charlotte Shane’s scathing review of Sudhir Venkatesh’s new book Floating City levels many of the same criticisms I and others have already made against the duplicitous sociologist (such as his total ignorance of the history of sex work, his dreadfully-low “estimates” of our income, etc).  But it also contains many telling observations about his character flaws:

…when one of his subjects is assaulted, and her co-worker asks that he not report it:  “I stood there, frustrated…What should I do?  Go along with them or call the damn police like a normal person?  I didn’t want to get sucked into their criminal value structure and end up doing the wrong thing.”  This alarming response encapsulates…[his] problem.  The desire to avoid arrest after suffering a brutal assault is a sensible one…but Venkatesh can’t wrap his head around it…he is “normal” and they are deviants…his responses are the right ones and theirs are not…Venkatesh clings to the notion that sex work is inherently, unavoidably risky, regardless of the legal and cultural circumstances…when the issue of…legalization…is raised, it’s only to dismiss it…

Not An Addiction (May Updates)rat with Oreos

Crypto-moralists are once again trying to pretend that fatty foods are addictive, but as Jacob Sullum points out:

…the study’s findings could just as truthfully be summarized… “Research Shows That Heroin and Cocaine Are No More Addictive Than Oreos.”  Putting it that way would have raised some interesting questions about the purportedly irresistible power of these drugs, which supposedly justifies using force to stop people from consuming them.  But the researchers are not interested in casting doubt on the empirical basis for the War on Drugs…they are trying to build an empirical basis for the War on Fat…if the neurological effects of Oreos make them impossible to resist, how is it that most people manage to resist them, consuming them in moderation or not at all?…

Dirty Amateurs

Whether the infection is biological or technological, it’s always the same:

…Symantec…found…that hackers…target…religious sites at a much higher rate:  “…religious and ideological sites…have triple the average number of threats per infected site than adult/pornographic sites.  We hypothesize that this is because pornographic website owners…have a vested interest in keeping their sites malware-free – it’s not good for repeat business”…

Dominating the News

Ex-vice madam Natalie Rowe has had her home raided by police days before she will make new claims about her relationship with Chancellor George Osborne…12…officers…with a battering ram burst into her London flat…[at] dawn…claiming they were acting on a tip-off…no drugs were found in the two-hour search…“WHY did one officer involved in the raid ask me whether I was about to publish my memoirs and WHY did a police inspector tell me I’d be opening a ‘whole can of worms’ if I complained?”…

Meanwhile, in Japan, “Yuka Fujisawa was arrested…for…sticking needles in gentlemen’s genitals for money…Fujisawa’s ‘needle play’ was performed on consenting adults, so her arrest is purely for the act of drawing blood without a medical license…

Elephant in the Parlor

Beleaguered former…MLA Mike Allen has received a rare note of support…from the Alberta Sex Workers.  Mr. Allen was one of 13 men caught in a St. Paul, Minnesota-area sting in July…He…could face up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.  “Alberta sex workers wish to assure MLA Mike Allen…that his activities…would be lawful, private and welcome in Alberta…sex workers in Mr. Allen’s riding…want him to continue as their MLA.  We feel he made a mistake taking his business out of Alberta to puritan…Minnesota, but sex workers in his constituency are still pleased to have an MLA who values the services they offer”…Christian Adamek

Moloch

How many more kids have to be sacrificed on this loathsome altar?  “A popular 15-year-old student has committed suicide after he reportedly faced expulsion and being placed on the sex offenders’ register simply for streaking at a high school football  game.  Christian Adamek, from Huntsville, Alabama,  hanged himself on October 2, a week after he was arrested…

Full of Themselves (TW3 #4)

I hope this keeps happening, so pole dancers will be forced to stand with sex workers rather than pretending they’re different:  “…Swansea University [banned its]…Pole Fitness Society…[saying] ‘Pole fitness and pole dancing are a direct spin off from lap dancing…Everyone knows where it comes from…and that pole dancing is…specifically designed to sexually excite the watcher’…”  Swansea has a long history of pearl-clutching over sex work.

The Course of a Disease

The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe has come up with a “tool kit” containing “information, ideas and resources…to help sex worker rights…organisations and activists…challenge…[the] Swedish model.”  You can view and download the tool kit and its associated worksheets here, or visit the ICRSE website to download one individual section at a time.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (TW3 #7)

This short interview with Dr. Heidi Hoefinger on her book Sex, Love and Money in Cambodia supports everything I always say about Asian bar girls, but the comments are illustrative of the deep state of denial in which “trafficking” fanatics exist:  among them are the claim that a woman who spent ten years living among her subjects is “naïve” and the astonishing assertion that literally 99.99% of whores are coerced.

Above the Law

A [California] Sheriff’s Department deputy…sexually assaulted a [woman] he…pulled over…[he offered to] let [her] go in exchange for sex…[but when she] declined …he [forced her anyway]…”  The unedited original is almost incomprehensible for all the “alleged” and “unknown male” and passive voice; it even describes forcible rape as “sexual contact occurred”.  And in Kentucky, “A sexual assault lawsuit has been filed against…Sheriff Rick Clemons…‘I’m upset.  I’m very offended.  I’m actually shocked’, said Clemons…”  Cry me a fucking river.Rupert Everett

Stand-Up Guys

Rupert Everett is supporting a campaign against proposals…to criminalise sex workers’ clients.  The actor, who participated in sex work as a younger man is making a [TV] programme on the subject.  He has signed an open letter by the English Collective of Prostitutes and Queer Strike…journalist Cary Gee and a whole range of activist groups…have all added their names too…Former New Zealand MP Tim Barnett, who sponsored the…Act which decriminalised prostitution, described the…way…[end demand] laws were used…“Half of those arrested were transgender sex workers who were identified as men”…

Greeks Bearing Gifts

The noisome fruit of the “mandatory prosecution” tree:

…In an incident back in April, Joel Darvell, 36, allegedly choked his wife while drunk, causing his son to tackle him…Darvell allegedly pistol-whipped his son and then fired a .45 caliber round into the wall of their home.  No injuries were sustained.  Darvell was charged with assault…but [his] wife and children…refused to testify…Judge Michael Evans…[had them] dragged away…[to] jail…where they were held in cuffs and shackles…John Hays, who is representing Darvell’s wife…said…“The prosecutor wants to put the defendant in prison for over 20 years, and (his family members) really do not want that”…After 48 hours…the 13-year-old girl…broke…and…agreed to testify against her father.  The son and mother…were made to agree…as well…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #28)

Everyday Whorephobia interviews Morgane Merteuil of STRASS about the especially-revolting French version of the Swedish model:

…The law also proposes to fight…[advertising] websites…all the help…[for exploited migrants] is conditional on stopping sexwork…[and] working with  an “agreed organization”; of course…sexworkers rights [groups] won’t be [among] them…if students do sexwork, it is because they don’t have the consciousness that this is “prostitution”; so the solution is to add lessons about the “objectification of the body” at school…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #43)Meas Ratha

Somaly Mam has been caught in yet another huge lie:

…in January 1998, Ms. Mam was propelled…into the international media spotlight largely owing to the harrowing on-camera testimony of the young Meas Ratha…[who supposedly had] been promised a job as a waitress in Phnom Penh, but wound up a captive in a brothel…Sixteen years [later]…Ms. Ratha—now 32 years old and married—said her testimony…was fabricated and scripted for her by Ms. Mam…Ratha…said that she did not want to cause trouble for Ms. Mam’s NGO, which had provided an education for her, but that she could no longer continue a lie that had followed her for half her life…the fabrication of Ms. Ratha’s sex slave story is only the latest incident of false information to emerge from Ms. Mam and her organizations…

And how exactly does Somaly Mam “help” sex workers?

…Estée Lauder…has opened the Somaly Mam Beauty Salon…providing survivors of sexual slavery and human trafficking with…education and vocational training…in high-touch beauty services in hair care, makeup application and nail treatments…

Well, I guess it’s better than putting them to work in her fashion industry sponsors’ sweatshops.

Us and Them

These abuses always start with stigmatized groups, but never stop there:

[UK] police are to get the power to restrict the freedom of anyone they suspect of being a sex offender, even if the person has never been convicted of a crime…This can include limiting internet use, stopping the person from being alone with a child under 16 and preventing travel abroad.  Anyone breaching the so-called Sexual Risk Order, which lasts for at least two years, could be jailed for up to five years…

Unmentionables

WH Smith shut down its website…after it was revealed that a search for the term “daddy” brought up hardcore pornographic  ebooks featuring bondage and humiliation alongside stories for children.  At least 60 pornographic ebooks…could also be found on Amazon, Waterstones and Barnes & Noble…WH Smith apologised to customers and said the “explosion” of self-publishing had left book retailers exposed to pornographic content…

They weren’t “exposed” to shit; they just had a poor website design and are passing the buck.Jerry Brown masturbatory gesture

The Punitive Mindset (TW3 #337)

The governor of California pretends prison inmates don’t have sex with each other:

…Jerry Brown…vetoed a bill a that would have…required…condoms [to be] available in every California prison.  Supporters…argued that [this] would help reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among inmates, who have higher rates of HIV/AIDS…Brown…noted that family visitors are already allowed to bring condoms for…overnight visits…

Policing for Profit (TW3 #341)

A money-making venture to lure…drug buyers into Sunrise [Florida] to purchase cocaine from police has been halted…Mayor Michael Ryan…lay blame…on the [newspaper story exposing the racket]…Ryan did not express concerns about…[the busts taking place] in such public locations as parking lots and family restaurants…

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #341)

Another UN agency has reaffirmed…support of sex workers in response to Equality Now’s anti-sex worker campaign…This leaves Equality Now starkly on the fringes of the global women’s movement, as organisations as authoritative as UN Women…assert…that sex work is work, not trafficking.  The statement…also…[backs] safe workplaces – which come with decriminalisation – and the right to self-determination, including the right to stay in sex work…[this] precludes…the “Swedish model”…supported by Equality Now…which tries to drive sex workers from sex work (against their consent) through making it intolerably dangerous…

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Abolitionism does not solve the problem of violence which…stems from the criminalization of sex workers and migrants, and the lack of rights that goes with it.  –  Sonja Dolinsek

Couples

Eve Ray on clients:

…clients of sex workers are regarded in many quarters as the scum of the earth…[so] it is hardly surprising that clients are so reluctant to speak out.  Yet talk to sex workers and they will tell you that their clients come in all shapes and sizes…not all clients are men…for my birthday we decided to…book…a girl from a local escort agency for some three in a bed fun…So I am a sex worker’s client…The girls we saw were bright and attractive and fully aware of what they were doing…Two Women and a Man by Giorgione (1510)We paid them well and they provided us with what we wanted.  It was…a business transaction of benefit to both parties. No coercion, no exploitation, no rape…

Whores and Wives

An Australian woman left her husband upon discovering his affair with a hooker, so she of course blamed our profession and published a stereotype-laden defamation of it.  Here’s an eloquent rebuttal:

…In…Sad Reality Behind Pretty Woman Tale, Louise O’Neale…claims…sex workers are home wreckers, men’s “chattels”, that we’re… “commodified”, “dehumanised”…packages to be bought and sold…She also argues we are sexual deviants…who require professional help.  I think O’Neale has watched too many Hollywood movies…feminists have spent decades…telling [us] how we should feel about our work, or [telling] others on our behalf how we feel about our work…They claim to be experts; they’ve got it dead wrong…

Good Fantasy, Bad Reality

Prosecutors must have dropped the claim that the girl was “mentally deficient”:

[Edward Bagley] was sentenced to 20 years…for holding a young woman captive as a sex slave for six years…he…also agreed to pay about $123,000 toward future counseling and medical care…Bradley Cook…received a 20-year sentence and…$123,000 in restitution…[for] sex trafficking…[and Dennis] Henry…was sentenced to 10 years, $123,000 in restitution and lifetime supervision…Marilyn Bagley…is to receive probation and [Michael] Stokes and [James] Noel five years each…

Sweden’s Ultra-progressive Views on Women

A pub in…Sweden has been cleared of discrimination charges after bouncers denied entry to several women of Asian appearance in what owners claimed was an attempt to cut down on prostitution…the court ruled…[the] owners had a “legitimate reason”…

An Educated Idiot

SWOP-NYC and SWANK…have significant questions about the “research” carried out by Sudhir Venkatesh…[and reported] in January 2011…in Wired Magazine…he made many outlandish, salacious, and false claims about…sex workers in NYC…he said he had “followed” 270 sex worker subjects…but none of our membership had ever been contacted by him nor knew of anyone who had been…Claims…regarding the dates, locations and numbers of people…were wildly inconsistent.  His conclusions…were easily shown by other researchers and commentators to be incorrect.  Other conclusions such as the fiction that “there’s usually a 25% surcharge” to have sex without a condom not only bore no relationship to reality but also endangered sex workers…We were so concerned by what we uncovered that in October 2011 we wrote a letter to the Columbia IRB

Make Up Your Damned Mind!

Cops “fight” violence against sex workers by subjecting them to violence:

A [California] task force…arrested or cited 23 people…on charges of prostitution or soliciting a prostitute…police mounted the three-day sting operation [after]…investigation into the rape and robbery of two prostitutes…led police to…the realization that victims rarely report the crimes for fear of being prosecuted…[Sgt. Kurt] Hixenbaugh said he decided to organize the recent crackdown to suppress the illicit market…“If we can make business bad, then we can put a dent in the activity,” he explained…

Hixenbaugh’s moral retardation is exceeded only by his ignorance of economics.

Dr. Schrödinger and His Amazing Pussycat

Weird science, truth vs. fact and all that kind of stuff:

Head Games

Slixa has published a number of excellent articles lately, but last week its management let a real clunker through:  a manipulative hobbyist giving advice on how to haggle.  After an outcry the editors removed the article, apologized and printed this rebuttal from Tizzy Wall:

…Tommy…advocated using review writing and being an active member of the hobbyist community as a bargaining chip to see if prices are negotiable…[but his] tips are less effective (and ethical) than he would like to believe…There is an implicit threat that comes with, “I am a loud, influential voice in a community that can affect your livelihood”…it seems as though he gets a thrill out of violating boundaries and feeling as though he has somehow tricked a provider for his benefit…The underlying message…is that providers aren’t worth what they charge…

Against Their Will (August Updates)

People attempting to leave a country without government permission are now classed as “victims”:

Philippine authorities have intercepted 10…human trafficking victims…who were bound for Russia to illegally work there…The Philippines has been trying to impress the United States with its anti-human trafficking drive in order for Washington to lift the Tier 2 ranking it gave…in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report…officer-in-charge Siegfred Mison said the incident should again serve as a warning to…workers against attempting to leave without the required overseas employment permits…

One Born Every Minute

A man…claimed he could use his penis to rid a woman of ghosts that had taken up residence in her vagina…Huang Jianjun was arrested…after he [charged] A Xin [$3000 for removing]…evil spirits…[via] sexual intercourse…Jianjun insists that he never had sex with…Xin and that he can’t get an erection due to diabetes…Meanwhile… “Godman” Asaram Bapu, 73, revered by millions across India for his sermons on “enlightenment”, has been charged with raping a 16-year-old schoolgirl…he…claimed he is physically incapable of rape but…medical tests show him to be in good shape…

Tyranny By Consensus (October Updates)

Here’s a concise explanation from Nina Hartley about why condoms in porn are an incredibly bad idea:

…It takes about two hours to shoot a good hardcore scene. Condoms were never intended for that kind of industrial use…[they] roll down, come off, dry out, split and otherwise fail on sets about 30% of the time…and…no matter how lubricated and how designed, [they] create more internal friction on a woman’s intimate anatomy than human skin, with which it’s evolved to tolerate contact.  All-condom players…tend to turn up at clinics with raw internal tissues and multiple surface infections.  This we call “condom rash” and it’s more than an annoyance…if your insides are compromised by friction burns and low-grade bugs…you’re that much more vulnerable to whatever might be turned loose should a condom fail…

Presents, Presents, Presents!Minneapolis Madams

Ed says hiI’ve received three gifts in the past two weeks: Chester Brown sent me his book Ed the Happy Clown, Korhomme sent The Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work and Aspasia sent Minneapolis Madams.  Thank you all so much!

Profit from Panic

Rescue industry schemes aren’t usually this blatant:

If you are interested in creating positive brand awareness…advertising at the Global Online Counter Child Trafficking Conference is the ideal platform…We have various opportunities which will leave a strong impression of your brand in people’s minds and make your company stand out as a leader in supporting organizations…to prevent…child trafficking…Our…sponsorship packages…include a number of marketing opportunities…to…showcase your social responsibility…and…align yourself with the Global Online Counter Child Trafficking Conference brand…

Bullies With Badges

“Human trafficking” is rapidly becoming a catchall excuse for tyranny, like drugs and “terrorism”:

…the Environmental Protection Agency…[conducted] an armed raid of gold mines near Chicken, Alaska…while investigating a supposed violation of…the Clean Water Act…The EPA said…it…sent in armed men because it had been given information by…State Troopers regarding “rampant drug and human trafficking…in the area.”  That explanation was debunked by a spokeswoman for the state troopers, who said they did not advise the EPA to raid the mine and that there was no evidence of drug and human trafficking…

Broken Record

The same lies, repeated over and over and over

MSPs fear that next year’s Commonwealth Games could lead to an influx of victims of human trafficking to Scotland…Myria Vassiliadou…has urged the Scottish Government to make people who procure sex and consumer goods from victims its top anti-trafficking priority.  Studies have shown that authorities must be vigilant to human trafficking during large sporting events…

Studies have, of course, repeatedly shown exactly the opposite.

Worse Than I Thought

The cancer reaches Michigan:

…Glenn Anderson…has introduced five bills…to more heavily punish…human trafficking…“The Polaris Project…was extremely helpful in shaping this legislation” [he said]…Anderson’s bills…Allow for assets…to be forfeited and dispersed to…law enforcement…criminalize the failure to report knowledge of…trafficking…[and] add convicted…traffickers to the Sex Offenders Registry…Overland Park Arboretum statue

See No Evil (TW3 #37)

A fresh effort is underway to bring criminal charges over a bare-breasted statue…The American Family Association…plans…petitions to empanel a grand jury to again investigate whether the sculpture at the Overland Park Arboretum violates state obscenity laws …Phillip Cosby…last year petitioned a grand jury…but failed to secure an indictment…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

a federal judge ruled…that…strippers…deserve…at least the minimum wage…The ruling came in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of current and former dancers at…Rick’s…[in Manhattan]…the…chain…argued that its dancers [are] independent contractors, more akin to stand-up comedians than fry cooks.  But [the] judge…said the list of rules Rick’s laid down could be described as “micromanagement”…

Hollow Claims

The German Prostitution Model: Reducing Violence Against Sex Workers” is a fairly self-explanatory title, but this short, yet thorough essay also sharply criticizes the Swedish model and those (like the European Women’s Lobby) who labor under the idiotic delusion that there could ever be a world “free from prostitution”, and are willing to subject real women to police violence in pursuit of that mad fantasy.

Due Consideration (TW3 #137)

Australia, are you really sure you want to go down the “tyrannical laws named for dead children” path?

…”Zoe’s law”…which could classify a foetus as a person in New South Wales…would allow grievous bodily harm charges to be brought against those who hurt a foetus of more than 20 weeks’ gestation…Melanie Fernandez…of the Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia (WELA)…said…”This…kind of precedent has been used as a…starting point to roll back abortion right in other places, such as states in America”…Portway's cage

Tales from the Dark Side

[When] prosecution for thoughtcrime has become a grim reality, it might be wise to restrict…discussions [of cannibalism fantasies] to fully-anonymized online accounts...”  And, I might add, to avoid actually obtaining the equipment one would need:

Geoffrey Portway’s attorney says the man’s “fantasy world” posed no actual threat of harm to a child.  But the…[Massachusetts] man pleaded guilty…to child pornography charges along with solicitation to commit a crime of violence…and the locked, soundproof basement with a metal cage…bondage equipment and a child-sized coffin serve as evidence…Two other men — one a puppeteer at a Florida church — have also been convicted as a result of the online chat sessions…[about] plans to rape, kill and eat children…

Legitimate Outrage (TW3 #329)

Scott Long on the way politicians like David Vitter and Eliot Spitzer suffer far less than the whores whose names get dragged through the mud along with theirs:

…Spitzer…[made] life miserable for both sex workers and clients.  As…Attorney General, he let…Equality Now goad him into a years-long campaign of harassment against a travel company that marketed sex tours…as Governor, he signed an…“anti-trafficking” law…that massively increased penalties for [buyers]…while maintaining penalties for sex workers…But what folks hate Spitzer for is having bought sex, not the repressive policies he promoted.  Paying women is offensive; persecuting them, fine.  Called out for “immorality”…he actually had the nerve to cite his crackdown on consensual activities in his own defense…In 2008, a jury convicted…Deborah Jeane Palfrey not of prostitution, but of money laundering…and “racketeering”…Palfrey killed herself before sentencing…And [her client David] Vitter stays in the Senate…

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #337)

…in connection with the attack on Madaripur brothel on August 28…Borun Begum, a sex worker…filed a case…against 35 identified and 1965 unidentified people…[including] general secretary Milon Bhuyan…women affairs officer Mahmuda Akter and Islahe Qawmi Parishad leader Raju Hujur…She…sought compensation for…valuables worth [$385,000] and…properties worth [$64,000]…Parimal Sarkar…filed a case…against 37 identified and 300 unidentified people…seeking compensation of [$77,000]…for [vandalism of] 30 houses…

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I don’t want to teach ESL.  I don’t want to work in food service.  I would rather sell sex.  –  Melissa Petro

Joshua JensenLicense To Rape

A woman…coerced into oral sex by [a] Beaverton [Oregon] police officer in 2010 accepted a settlement in her lawsuit…[Joshua] Jensen pleaded guilty to…official misconduct and coercion charges…[stemming] from two incidents…in which [he] arranged to meet a prostitute…and…[showed] up in uniform, in a marked police car.  Both women [said] he ordered them behind a garbage container.  The woman who sued him said he grabbed her head, forced it down and demanded that she perform oral sex…Jensen was not charged with a sex crime and did not have to register as a sex offender.  He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison…[but] completed his sentence in November 2011 through an Alternative Incarceration Program.

Other rapists get lifetime sentences on the “sex offender” registry; Jensen got a slap on the wrist.

The Slave-Whore Fantasy

Another example of what real sex slavery looks like:

A Chinese court sentenced [Li Hao, 35] to death for holding six women as sex slaves…and killing two of them…the former local government employee kidnapped six nightclub and karaoke bar workers and repeatedly raped them in a self-built dungeon.  Two of the six were found dead when a 23-year-old woman escaped and led police to the basement.  Li forced them all into prostitution and filmed them in pornographic videos he put on the internet…He then instructed three women to kill two of the other captives.  The three women were found guilty of murder but were given lenient sentences.  One was jailed for three years and two were put on probation…

An Educated Idiot

It seems credulity and sloppy scholarship aren’t Sudhir Venkatesh’s only flaws:

…Sudhir Venkatesh…is a celebrity…through his research on gang life and prostitutes…but…some of his peers say that…he takes liberties not appropriate for a scholar:  sensationalizing his experiences, exaggerating the reliability of his memory and, in one case, physically assaulting someone…and…he was the subject last year of a grueling investigation into [$241,364.83] of spending that Columbia auditors said was insufficiently documented, misappropriated or outright fabricated…auditors said that Professor Venkatesh directed $52,328 to someone without any “documented evidence of work performed”…He charged Columbia for town cars to take him around, to take his fiancée home from work…[and] to take someone…from [his] address to a building that houses a nail salon and a psychic…

Parable

Flexibeast presents a clever satire making the same comparison I did, namely sex and food:

I’d like to discuss…the commodification of food, and the scourge that is the food industry.  Food…is an essential human need.  When people buy and sell food, the act of preparing and eating food becomes mere support for, and reinforcement of, the notion that it’s acceptable to transform relations between humans into relations between a human and an unimportant unfeeling object.  We must reject all buying and selling of food…

After you enjoy this very funny parody, try this Onion article on “abstinence-only school lunch programs” linked by one of Flexibeast’s commenters.

Down Under

This may have something to do with the good example of Fiji’s closest large neighbors, Australia and New Zealand:  “Health authorities want sex work legalised to remove discrimination…the Ministry of Health’s acting permanent secretary, Dr Josefa Koroivueta…said Fiji was working towards a human rights-based approach and discrimination of sex workers was against human rights…the new legislation should be ready by next year.”

A Load of Farley

chanukah menorahOne can never have too many scathing critiques of Melissa Farley, so I present this very effective one from Glasgow Sex Worker, which criticizes both her horrible personality and her awful “research methodology”, with lots of pertinent links.

Hanukkah

Hanukkah starts at sundown today; Khag Urim Sameakh to all my Jewish readers!

Scapegoats

It’s nice to know that at least one European government is so free from economic concerns that it has time to deal with the little things:

…The German parliament…is considering making it an offence not only to hurt an animal but also to force it into unnatural sex…Germany legalised bestiality…in 1969, except when the animal suffered “significant harm”.  But animal rights groups have campaigned for a change in the law…a fine of up to 25,000 euros…is proposed if someone forces an animal to commit “actions alien to the species”…Bestiality is banned in…the Netherlands, France and Switzerland…in the UK…the maximum sentence [was reduced in 2003] from life imprisonment to two years…[it is legal] in Belgium, Denmark and Sweden, though Stockholm is considering a change…

It’s also nice to know that under current Swedish law, animals can consent to sex while women can’t.

An Example to the West

…[Maharashtra] state minister for women and child Varsha Gaikwad told [the Times of India], “The state women’s policy aims to recognize the concerns of [marginalized] communities…[so] the expert committee reviewing the policy will have…three representatives from the transgenders and the sex workers in order to ensure that their concerns get reflected in the policy document”…San Antonio 4

Traffic Jam

Harvey Silverglate reminds us that some of the victims of the Satanic Panic are still rotting away in prison for “crimes” that never happened:

…Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, Anna Vasquez and Cassandra Rivera…[were] accused in 1994 of repeatedly raping Ramirez’s two nieces, then 7 and 9 years old…Mayhugh, Vasquez and Rivera are twelve years into a 15-year sentence.  Ramirez was accused of being the ringleader, so she received 37½ years.  All four of the women refused pretrial plea deals…and three have refused parole offers conditioned on an admission of guilt and completion of a “rehabilitation” course for sex offenders…In September, one of the accusers recanted, saying she now seems to recall a quiet, even boring, weekend with her aunt, her sister and her aunt’s friends.  She has vowed to do everything in her power to help exonerate the four women still imprisoned as a result of her earlier false accusations…

As in other “Satanic Panic” cases and most “sex trafficking” cases, the total lack of concrete evidence, the fact that the accusers’ stories changed frequently and their history of false rape accusations (instigated by their sociopathic father) made absolutely no difference to prosecutors, jury or judge, who wanted to “send a message” that “alternative lifestyles” (the women are lesbians) would not be tolerated.

Coming Out

Melissa Petro is broke, and therefore thinking “a lot” about going back into hooking even though she has often said she didn’t like it.  That’s why her voice is valuable; as I said before, “I think it’s extremely important for women who don’t love the work to come out, because I honestly believe they’re the majority.  Everybody hears from the ‘happy hookers’ and the ‘survivors’, but…for most of the women I’ve known it was a job like any other, with its own advantages and disadvantages…

South of the Border

Funny how “sex trafficking victims” magically get their agency back when they’re Mexicans the “authorities” prefer to deport:  “Three people pleaded guilty…to bringing illegal immigrant women to [South Carolina] to work as prostitutes whose clientele were migrant farm workers…The prostitutes were illegal immigrants but none were being held against their will, [the US attorney] said…”  Apparently, the immigration stooge interviewed for the story got a different memo; he opined that “the women…have been rescued from lives of misery as a result of this investigation.”American Courtesans

The Public Eye

Jessie Nicole reviews American Courtesans, a new documentary about the lives of eleven high-end escorts:

Each of the eleven women had profoundly different experiences…[proving] that there is no single narrative of the sex industries.  Though each one seemed happy and relatively stable at the time of the interviews, many had experienced violence, arrest, and economic desperation…there was no sugarcoating or romanticization …the film also includes testimony from clients and family members…American Courtesans was a good step in the right direction, but we need to keep pushing further…[with] more and better media projects…

Buried Truth

James Cameron, the federal drug prosecutor who fled Maine after his child porn conviction was upheld three weeks ago, was arrested Sunday morning at a used-media store in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  US marshals theorize he was headed for Mexico.

Metaupdates

Gorged With Meaning (First Updates of the Year, Part Two)

Pearl-clutching Brits just can’t let this two-year-old study go:

Undergraduates have traditionally pulled pints or waited tables to pay their way through university, but…a significant number are now turning to sex work to make ends meet.  The rise in fees which will see some students graduate with projected debts of up to £53,000 …is being blamed for persuading young women and men to take up pole dancing, escort work or even prostitution.  Experts say that university welfare officers are largely ignorant of the growing phenomenon and poorly equipped to deal with issues arising from young people’s involvement.  Research by Dr Ron Roberts…published in 2010 suggested that one in four students know someone who had worked in the sex industry to fund their studies – up from three per cent in 1990.  Dr Roberts found 16 per cent would consider working in the industry while more than one in 10 were open to the idea of being an escort.  Research by Teela Sanders and Kate Hardy, of the University of Leeds, found that a quarter of lap dancers had a degree whilst a third of the women they interviewed were using the job to fund new forms of training…

This poster won the Irish "sex trafficking" contest described in TW3 #40; all pictures are stolen.

This poster won the Irish “sex trafficking” contest described in TW3 #40; all pictures are stolen.

Coed sex workers have never been rare; they’re just more apt to admit it these days, which is good for everybody.  The funniest part of the article is that its clueless author appears to believe the claims of the con-man behind “Sponsor A Scholar”.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #8)

Prohibitionists are furious that the Israeli legislature allowed the wildly-unpopular (opposed by 59% of Israelis) Swedish model to die in committee, but what makes this prohibitionist op-ed entitled “Prostitution in Israel: Myth vs Reality” so interesting (if nauseating) is that it completely inverts the two, labeling myths as “facts” and vice-versa.  One wonders how people manage to make it through life in such a deeply-delusional state.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (TW3 #20)

Despite a few good advance hints, the news about DSM-V is mostly bad:

…The [APA] has given its final approval to a deeply flawed DSM 5 containing many changes that seem clearly unsafe and scientifically unsound…Fortunately, some of its most…unsupportable proposals were eventually dropped under great external pressure (most notably…internet and sex addiction…)  But…DSM 5 will start a half or dozen or more new fads which will be detrimental to the misdiagnosed individuals and costly to our society…

Dr. Frances’ list of the ten worst changes includes DMDD; the redefinition of normal grief into “Major Depressive Disorder”, the normal forgetfulness of old age into “Minor Neurocognitive Disorder”, and gluttony into “Binge Eating Disorder”; and (most dangerously) the introduction of “use disorders”, essentially “Behavioral Addictions that…can…make a mental disorder of everything we like to do a lot.”

One Born Every Minute (TW3 #48)

The man uncovered as running a “sex for tuition fees” website…[was] secretly filmed…[and identified as] Mark Lancaster, but when contacted by a television programme refused to speak about the Sponsor a Scholar scheme…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #48)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti vs. Rhoda Grant on this week’s Sunday Politics Scotland.

This Week in 2010 and 2011

Beside a two-part column on the myth that most whores are enslaved by pimps, this week also featured posts on Barbie, Saint Nicholas, toys, the Salvation Army, my favorite bands and albums, “sex addiction”, sugar daddy sites and the bizarre pretense that historical courtesans were not prostitutes.  We also saw articles on the anti-whore hostility of Canadian “authorities”, the lack of outrage when criminals use Craigslist to commit non-sex related crimes, and why ignorance really is bliss for some people, and I gave advice to a young man who wanted to “rescue” a hooker.

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Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education. –  Bertrand Russell

I recently stumbled on this article at Wired Magazine and was immediately impressed with the incredible stupidity and ignorance of its author, who apparently believes that if he watches one flock of pigeons in one city for a while he can safely make pronouncements about swallows in Capistrano, hawks in Africa and Adelie penguins in Antarctica.  Even with all my experience I hesitate to make general statements about all hookers everywhere, but Sudhir Venkatesh doesn’t; after talking to a bunch of streetwalkers and low-end escorts who used to be streetwalkers in New York City, he apparently considers himself expert enough to make pronouncements about “sex workers” in general.  This article has to be seen to be believed, but I warn regular readers that the only part which won’t have your jaw dropping in astonishment is the angry commentary from real whores below the main article.  So, I’ll just cover some of the highlights.

What is it like to be a prostitute?  The answer depends on whether you work out of a client’s car or a $500-a-night hotel room.  In 1999, I set out to study the effects of efforts to bring the suburban middle class back to New York City.  The gentrification of Times Square made for a unique social experiment:  What happens to sex workers when they are pushed off the streets and into the outer boroughs?  I had little idea at the time that I’d be documenting the rise of an entirely new, upper-end “indoor” market, in which streetwalkers have given way to a professional class.  The economies of big cities have been reshaped by a demand for high-end entertainment, cuisine, and “wellness” goods.  In the process, “dating,” “massage,” “escort,” and “dancing” have replaced hustling and streetwalking.  A luxury brand has been born.  These changes have made sex for hire more expensive.  But luxe pricing has in turn helped make prostitution, well… somewhat respectable.  Whereas men once looked for a secretive tryst, now they seek a mistress with no strings attached, a “girlfriend experience,” and they are willing to pay top dollar for it.

Let this sink in for a moment.  Venkatesh, a professor of sociology at Columbia, has apparently never heard of courtesans and seems to sincerely believe that upscale prostitution, stripping and massage parlors were all born in the past decade in New York City.  This represents such profound historical and sociological ignorance it literally boggles the mind.  The next paragraph is more of the same:

Technology has played a fundamental role in this change.  No self-respecting cosmopolitan man looking for an evening of companionship is going to lean out his car window and call out to a woman at a traffic light.  The Internet and the rise of mobile phones have enabled some sex workers to professionalize their trade.  Today they can control their image, set their prices, and sidestep some of the pimps, madams, and other intermediaries who once took a share of the revenue.  As the trade has grown less risky and more lucrative, it has attracted some middle-class women seeking quick tax-free income.

Undoubtedly, the rise of the internet has made it a lot easier for girls to be completely independent, but even agency girls are independent contractors and there were personals ads and referral services long before the internet was invented.  The internet has also allowed girls who might once have worked the street to inexpensively advertise to a wider audience and stay more safely indoors while doing so.  In this one respect, his findings aren’t far off-base; the problem arises when he attempts to extrapolate information gleaned from streetwalkers and ex-streetwalkers (“I followed 290 women, 170 of whom made enough (at least $30,000) to separate them from streetwalkers”) to the entire sex worker population.  And his bizarre assertion that high-end prostitution is a product of computers and cell phones would certainly surprise Phryne, Theodora, Mata Hari, Madame Pompadour or even Josie Arlington.

After interviewing 120 streetwalkers and 170 low-end escorts ($30,000 a year is very low-end, especially in New York) Venkatesh feels confident enough to pronounce that “escorts” (not low-end escorts, all escorts) earn about 50 percent more per transaction than streetwalkers (after saying the latter make about $75 per transaction), are “beaten twice a year, on average,” and “keep working to pay for clothing and shoes.”  Just a bit of perspective here:  In New Orleans (a cheaper market than New York) during the time period of the study agency escorts charged an average of $300 (of which they kept $200) and independents $200, and I never met a girl who was literally beaten by a client, ever.  And I guess they’ve never heard of things like “rent”, “food”, “gasoline”, “electricity bills” and “children” up at Columbia.  He also declares that independent escorts “have to” pay for drugs for clients, which is as amazingly stupid an assertion as any in this mess; it would be a foolish escort indeed who agreed to bring drugs to a client since the very request screams “cop”, and the idea that she would pay for such out of her own pocket leads me to believe that some of these girls were pulling Venkatesh’s leg.

It just goes downhill from there; we are told that nearly all escorts have a day job (in reality a minority do), that a boob job will increase earning potential about 50% (obviously he’s never heard of “spinners”), and that bottle-blondes make more money (they don’t; I got just as many requests for brunettes).  “Caitlyn” sold this sucker on the idea that mid-range escorts spend $2000 per month on shoes, and he somehow got the notion that a girl with four regulars making $80,000 a year is “high-end” in New York.  The professor says all sex workers (even, apparently, strippers and PSOs) “always” carry two cell phones because “Guys sometimes grab a woman’s mobile to gain a sense of power and control” (perhaps that happens to New York streetwalkers from time to time, but I’ve never heard of it) and that “If the client wants to skip the condom, there’s usually a 25 percent surcharge” (no, there’s usually a boot out the door for such a request, and even among desperate street girls or semi-pros who agree to it there’s no “usual” charge because desperation is not a predictable thing).  But in the end, he reveals his methodological flaws in spades:  though 61% of his interviewees had used Craigslist at one time or another, according to his graphs only 8-15% advertised via “personal referral or other”, with that “other” containing every other means of internet advertising including Backpage, Eros, personal websites, review boards, etc, etc, etc…in other words, his “study” ignored somewhere in the neighborhood of 75% of the whores in New York.

The only remotely interesting thing about the study (outside of its author’s capacity for self-delusion) is that he claims to have encountered 290 streetwalkers and low-end escorts but only 11 pimps.  Considering that like most people he was probably predisposed to overestimate the percentage of girls with pimps the number is a tantalizingly low 3.8%; unfortunately his worthless methodology renders even that number unusable, which is too bad because otherwise it would’ve been a great statistic to quote.

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